Preserved Lemons

Photographer: Kate

My friend and colleague Verity works out of our Auckland office for the majority of the year, but she regularly has work trips to Dunedin. On several occasions she has kindly brought down bags of the most incredible lemons I have ever had in my life, from her Grandma’s lemon tree.  Her kindness has sparked a slight obsession for delicious, free-growing ‘Auckland’ lemons especially when compared to the tiny, weakling lemons we have to purchase from the supermarkets down here in Dunedin.

Back in July I made a trip up to Auckland for work…. Obviously this meant I could stock up on my favourite citrusy friend! The second day of my trip, I turned up to my desk and discovered a massive bag of 25 lemons, some grapefruits and oranges (thankfully I had a big suitcase) courtesy of a few people in the office.

I returned to Dunedin on a Thursday evening, so that weekend I spent some time making lots of preserved lemons, and drank plenty of fresh lemon juice in both tea and with hot water, honey and ginger. I brought most of the grapefruit and oranges into the office to share and we are currently working out a ‘fruit exchange’ with our Auckland friends. We can send up delicious Central Otago stone fruit and they can send down fejoas, citrus and…well…. everything else!

Having a jar of these beautiful gems in your fridge is such a brilliant and simple way to add flavour to many different dishes.  Try adding them to aioli, tossing them through pan fried seasonal vegetables, tagines, soups and stews.  For even greater convenience you can whizz up the entire contents of the jar after a month to make a puree which can be called on by the spoonful.  Try a little stirred through some pasta, with olive oil, shredded chicken and rocket or maybe a smear on some crostini topped with artichokes and goats cheese.  Sunshine in a jar….delicious!


lemons (any quantity but I preserved 20)
rock salt or sea salt (at least 1 tbsp. per lemon!)
dried chillies – I used 1 per jar
black peppercorns – approximately 1 tsp. per 5 lemons
cinnamon sticks – I used 1 in total
bay leaves – 1 per jar
cooled, boiled water

The above quantities can be adjusted or omitted to suit your taste buds.


1. Steralise a glass kilner jar – one large enough to contain your lemons (or a couple of smaller ones if preferred).
2. Slice the lemons into quarters, making sure they are still attached at the base (see photo)
3. Stuff each lemon with salt, and put into your kilner jar, pushing and squashing it so some of the lemon juice is expelled into the vessel.
4. Continue step 3 for all your lemons.
5. All the dried chillies, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves to your jars
6. top up the jar with a little cooled, boiled water.
7. put the lid on and leave in a cool, dark place for 1 month – turning every few days.
8 These lemons are best left at least 1 month before using and once opened, need to be stored in the fridge